Open letter to Councillor David Hodge, Leader of Surrey County Council: Please Support The Campaign To Keep Cobgates Open
Dear Councillor Hodge,
Following the successful public meeting last week (4 Dec) in Farnham attended by over 75 people, including residents of Cobgates care home, family members and concerned members of the community, I am writing to ask that Surrey County Council reconsiders its preferred option of closing Cobgates.
I was invited to speak at the meeting because of my experience leading the successful campaign in Lewisham to save our local hospital. Even though Cobgates is on a smaller scale, I see many parallels. I see a vital community asset that is well used and highly valued by local people under threat of closure on spurious grounds that don’t stand up to basic scrutiny. I see financially driven decisions masquerading as being about care quality. I see a high level of risk that has not been properly accounted for. I see a consultation that looks as if the decision has already been made. I see users of the service, family members, staff and the wider community coming together to build a campaign to save something they care deeply about.
If you could have heard the residents of Cobgates at the meeting I am sure you would have been moved by their heartfelt pleas to be able to stay in the place that is their home, in the true sense of the word. They described feeling like they were amongst family, loved and cared for, treated with dignity, kindness and respect. This was in large part due to the wonderful staff, but also because of the long term friendships they have developed. Such relationships are vital to wellbeing and cannot simply be recreated in a different environment. The thought of having to move fills them and their families with dread and not without reason. There is evidence of serious risk to physical and mental health, and even of hastening death, of forced moves from care homes.
Cobgates has clearly got something right about how to provide high quality elderly care, including care for people with dementia. In a world where we hear all too often of poor quality care, why is Surrey County Council threatening to destroy a well functioning care home? Instead it should be supporting it and encouraging people to learn from it as an example of best practice.
People at the public meeting talked movingly about how much they value Cobgates and its staff, and made important points that challenged SCC’s justifications for closure. You can read more detail about the arguments presented at the meeting by following this link to a full summary and transcript of the meeting. I ask respectfully that this is circulated to all members of Surrey County Council’s Cabinet for full review ahead of the February 2015 meeting that will decide the fate of Cobgates.
Please listen to these voices and support the campaign to keep Cobgates open.
Dr Louise Irvine, Chair of Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign
Lead letter in the Farnham Herald, 12th December 2014 edition.